London no longer such a pricey place to send your staff

Previously the third most expensive city in the world for expats, London has plummeted to 16th...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Consultancy Mercer has been taking its annual look at the cost of living for expatriate workers in different cities around the world, and it seems that London has got considerably cheaper in the last year. Last time around, London was the third priciest city on earth for expats, behind Moscow and Tokyo – 12 months on, it’s slipped to 16th. With house prices sliding and the pound plummeting, even the likes of Caracas are now more expensive than London. Let’s hope this leads to an influx of foreign staff...

Mercer’s Cost of Living report is intended to help multinational companies work out how much they need to pay in allowances to expat staff. It tracks the price of over 200 goods and services – to cover housing, food, entertainment, and so on – and compiles an index using New York as a benchmark: London scored 25 points above the average last year, but this time it was eight points below. Indeed, most of Europe has been getting a lot cheaper: with the dollar having risen against most European currencies, the likes of Paris, Rome and Vienna also slipped down the index, while Warsaw sank from 35th to 113th (Poles apart, those two rankings).

At the top end of the list, it’s been an expensive time to be living in Japan. The soaring yen means Tokyo has overtaken Moscow as the world’s most expensive city – and Osaka, Japan’s second city, is now in second place. So unless you’re an obsessive fan of sumo wrestling (both cities host a round of Japan’s national sumo tournament), it’s not an ideal place to go on holiday at the moment. Other cities whose currencies are pegged to the dollar were also up in the rankings, from emirates like Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Although London-philes might have secretly enjoyed seeing the capital near the top of a global ranking of cities, its demotion is arguably quite a good thing. If it’s cheaper to house workers in London, but it remains an influential business location, multinationals should be much more likely to send their staff here – and they’ll spend their hard-earned cash on our goods and services. Whereupon we can reignite the row about rich foreigners using our services without paying their way, and possibly introduce an arbitrary tax hike that sends half of them scurrying home...


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London no longer such a pricey place to send your staff

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